PHILADELPHIA — I don’t know why, but’s always amused me that this city’s greatest sporting hero is a fictional tough guy.
But Rocky’s words rang true for me on Thursday night as the Steelers came from behind to defeat the Philadelphia Eagles. Specifically, the words delivered by actor Sylvester Stallone in the 2006 film Rocky Balboa about winning.
“The world ain’t all sunshine and rainbows. It’s a very mean and nasty place and I don’t care how tough you are it will beat you to your knees and keep you there permanently if you let it. You, me, or nobody is gonna hit as hard as life. But it ain’t about how hard ya hit. It’s about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward. How much you can take and keep moving forward. That’s how winning is done!”
And who am I, in Philadelphia of all places, to say the Rocky is wrong? The Steelers certainly got hit on Thursday night, with the first-team Philadelphia defense eviscerating the Black and Gold’s first-team offensive line, while veteran Joe Flacco carved up a vanilla Pittsburgh defense to the tune of a 13-0 first-half lead.
The Steelers got off the mat, played complimentary football and really dominated the second half of the game. The defense shut things down, as the Eagles had four second half possessions, gained zero first downs, and had a net loss of three yards while turning the ball over twice. The offense scored on its first three possessions of the second half.
Look, it’s a preseason game. It was the Steelers second team against the Eagles third team for much of the night. But head coach Mike Tomlin still stresses the importance of winning, even in the preseason.
“There are a lot of lessons to be learned from [Thursday night],” Tomlin said. “It’s good to learn those lessons while you win. Even in August, I tell those guys that if they turn the scoreboard on, we play to win. It will be exciting to go through this process, comb through the tape, and address the myriad of technical issues and problems we created.”
One of those was that the Steelers found a way to take a punch and hit back. When the Eagles had all the momentum early, they weathered the storm, forcing two long Jake Elliott field goals as part of a run of three consecutive Philadelphia scores. Then, they punched back, and did so in harmony on offense and defense. The Steelers got seven points from Justin Layne’s interception and then after Josh Dobbs turned the ball over late, Lafayette Pitts got it right back with another pick.
“I like the way that we supported one another,” Tomlin said. “What I mean is the defense gets a turnover, the offense gets on a short field and punches it in for seven. Later in the half, we turn the ball over, get put on the short field, and the defense responds. We then preserve the points and get a turnover. Complementary offense and defense is big. I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that. That type of mentality in the face of adversity and supporting teammates is a big component of team development. Those are the things that really capture my attention. There are some things we need to work on, but that’s just August 12th-type football.”
Winning isn’t the most important part of the preseason. That is staying healthy. The Steelers did that on Thursday night. It makes for a trip to Philadelphia worth cheering for.
News and notes from around the Pittsburgh Steelers and the National Football League.
🏈 The Steelers trading for Jacksonville ILB Joe Schobert Alan Saunders
🏈 Scouting Report: Schobert brings athleticism, instincts to the Steelers ILB room. Nick Farabaugh
🏈 Tomlin called reports that the Steelers will acquire Schobert “speculation” at this point. Saunders
🏈 Ben Roethlisberger will start the Steelers next preseason game against Detroit next Saturday. Saunders
🏈 Who played and who didn’t for the Steelers vs. the Eagles. Saunders
🏈 Once again, the Steelers’ sacks are for kids. Cale Berger
🏈 Masks will be required in indoor areas of Highmark Stadium for the Steelers’ regular-season opener in Buffalo. Berger
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AROUND THE NFL
🏈 Former Steelers RB James Conner is on the Cardinals’ COVID-19 reserve list as a high-risk close contact. Nick Hedderick
🏈 2020 Jaylen Samuels returned from the COVID-19 list and the Steelers cut FB Spencer Nigh. Saunders
🏈 2019 The Steelers returning to work with a somber, rain-soaked practice after the death of WR coach Darryl Drake. Saunders
Rough day at @steelers camp today; the first day back after Coach Drakes sudden death. @TeamJuJu was visibly still shaken and @_BigBen7 tried to ease the pain. @247Sports @AllanBell247 pic.twitter.com/8S4I3Zn1Ni
— Ed Thompson (@ThompsonFoto12) August 13, 2019
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